Powerless recap, Season 1 — Episode 9, “Emergency Punch-Up,” Aired Apr. 20, 2017
This episode of Powerless is a bottleneck episode!! Love those. For anyone who doesn’t know what a bottleneck episode is, it’s essentially an episode that happens in one room/area, with some sort of scenario that forces all the main characters to confront and interact with each other. Tensions can arise, alliances can be made, and friendships can be strengthened.
Making a Supervillain exists in the Powerless world and Ron is ENTRANCED. He, Teddy, and Wendy have a heated discussion about the innocence or guilt of Dr. Psycho until they’re interrupted by Dorothy brashly telling Teddy that Dr. Psycho is actually innocent.
All of Wayne Security are going on a company retreat and Emily’s excited to let everyone know she’s infused the whole trip with her patented Emily enthusiasm. No one’s particularly as excited for karaoke as she is, but she’ll deal so long as everyone wears the bright orange shirts she’s made for everyone. They’re personalized with catchphrases.
Emily’s exhausted from planning the retreat. Jackie doesn’t understand why Emily tries so hard to please the company but isn’t able to delve deeper into the matter because an alarm starts blaring in the office. Everyone tries to guess which alarm it is. Alien invasion? Giant spider robots from another dimension where the Nazis won? Nope. It’s a gas attack, according to the thick manual Emily flips through.
Dr. Psycho unleashed a truth gas attack that will require 12 hours to disperse. The truth gas itself is relatively harmless, unless someone breathes it in for two hours straight. And should the gas reach critical levels, any office building will lock down.
Guess what happens?
Yep, Wayne Security shuts down, keeping Emily, Wendy, Tom, Ron, Jackie, and Van inside. (They’d been waiting for Dorothy to meet them. She’s perpetually late and always complains about her diabetes.)
At first, things are going great. Emily was able to wrangle up her “last-minute” decorations and create a tiki getaway right within the office. It’s amazing: there are tiki lights everywhere and Emily’s made volcano punch, on which everyone promptly gets hammered.
That’s when things start to devolve a bit. Emily attempts at team bonding and asks which person one of them would bring to a deserted island. Wendy leers at Van and says his brittle nails point at his iron deficiency and he’ll make for a good meal. Jackie says she’s fine with being alone and dying of starvation. Teddy happily says he’ll bring Ron because they’re bros. Ron, however, picks Jackie because she’s logical and rational, even under times of high stress.
Emily, sensing trouble, tries to change the subject. But Teddy, hurt, lashes out at Ron, saying if they were going for the rational choice, he would’ve chosen Emily. The others egg Teddy on, telling him he has no muscle tone in his body and that he wouldn’t be helpful or useful in any situation. Van even challenges Teddy to throw one of the tiki torches at a trash can, to try and knock it over.
Teddy readies up, aims, and throws. The tiki torch cracks the window pane and gas starts leaking into the office. Everyone immediately runs into the R&D room, which has a convenient airtight door.
However, what the R&D room doesn’t have is: food, water, a bathroom, or gas masks. Even the required hazmat suits are on the retreat because the first night was a costume night.
Emily fashions an impromptu hazmat suit, with a bucket as a helmet, and gingerly steps out into the office to grab gas masks for everyone. What she doesn’t account for is one of Van’s comedy writers to be out there in the fog. He rips open the bucket mouthpiece and monologues at her. She tries to hold her breath but at the last second, she can’t — and sucks in the gas.
She immediately feels the effects of the gas and starts ranting at the rest of the group. She has no inhibitions to repress the hurt she feels when no one thanks her or appreciates her efforts. She tells Van that he’s a blubbering, spoiled man child, who would deserve to be eaten by Wendy. Even when Ron attempts to cajole her with a cherry Danish, she tells him that he uses his cuteness as a crutch and throws the Danish at him.
Everyone is completely taken aback at this ranting, red-eyed Emily. It’s Van, interestingly, who bands everyone together with a speech (courtesy of the one surviving comedy writer). He reminds them what the office was like before Emily came: friendless and stagnant.
Apologetic, they all gird their loins and belt out Kelly Clarkson’s “Since This You’ve Been Gone” on Emily’s karaoke machine. They’d all previously moaned and groaned about her insistence to karaoke, but they know her love for it.
It works! Emily bursts into the R&D room, joining them in the last refrain. Then she passes out.
When she wakes up, she doesn’t remember a thing. And no one wants to tell her about the dark side of Emily, lest they trigger something.
Shenanigans of the Week
Preparing for the fact that he’ll have gratuitous face time with the big heads of Wayne Enterprises at the retreat, Van has hired two comedy writers to feed him jokes through an earpiece. They’re Harvard graduates who wrote for the “Harvard Lampoon” and executive story editors of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Jackie appropriately disregards them.
Throughout the whole episode, Van leans on the duo to come up with appropriately timed jokes and even a big speech at the end. He has zero shame. It’s kind of amazing.
Like I said above, I looove bottleneck episodes. I also loved the fact that Emily lashed out at everyone who had taken her for granted. It was refreshing, to say the least.
Tune into Powerless every Thursday at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.
(Photo courtesy Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)